When We Get Completely Ripped Apart, We Find Out Who We Really Are

Your best friend betrayed you. Your boyfriend said you were not good enough.. ex-boyfriend. Your parents are divorced. You didn’t get to meet your father. You didn’t get in the baseball team. You didn’t get the job that you were rooting for. You’re not graduating from school. You got fired. Your house burned. You got bankrupt. Your bills are piling up and can’t find means to pay them. You get pregnant out of wedlock. You’re in love with someone who loves somebody else.

Here’s my story to tell – my eldest brother died from a car accident on the day of his birthday. It was something I see on the news but it was something I thought wouldn’t ACTUALLY happen to my loved ones or me. I was devastated. He just turned 21, how could that happen?! It was surreal (the saddest kind of surreal there is). I felt restless, emotionally and physically. And the fact that it wasn’t just me who was hurting didn’t make it better. My family was in pain – we were in pain. He was supposed to grow up with us.

The first year of moving on without him was terrible. I moved to Manila and was a freshman in a University. I was in a new environment: meeting new people; figuring out who I am; and staying in touched with my high school friends. It was an exciting year! But I had a baggage and it was really heavy. I thought it would eventually unload itself, so I continued trying to be happy and shook it off. But I learned that the more I ignore it, the more it’ll creep into me.

My first semester schedule was really light. My classes were just from 7am to 12noon, everyday. My older sister was, of course, still in her school whenever I come home after lunch. I was left alone, most of the time. I would just listen to music all afternoon, avoiding homework, and just daydream. Since my brother died, I had the feeling of always being watched. It made me feel safe and less alone, though. With that, I would talk to him in my head or out loud. Undeniably, it hurt because I know I wasn’t going to get a response, yet I still try. It was unbearable to think that I couldn’t hear his voice again, his laugh.

I put my attention into writing and praying to God, instead. I wrote about how I feel, I wrote about what I wanted to tell my brother, and even just writing the lyrics of the songs I was listening to. I had to keep myself sane. As I started to unpack the baggage and know myself more, I also started being grumpy and distant from my sister and friends. I was mean and frustrated because there was a battle inside of me, and I thought they wouldn’t understand, so I just told them I wanted to be alone. I wasn’t happy. Of course, I wasn’t happy. But alone time meant silence, and silence made me feel closer to my brother.

Since I wasn’t happy, I thought it was because I was taking up the wrong course in the wrong college. My grades were failing. Why would I not fail? I moved to Manila to study and yet, I was not studying. The irony. Halfway through second semester, I dropped my course and went home to Lucena.

Now, I am graduating from a different degree and institution. I can say I am happy compared to where I was four years ago. I made the right choice of starting over. Thinking about it now, it wasn’t just because I wanted to run away from my previous school. It was more on because I wanted to run away from myself, with all the frenzy, loneliness, and frustrations bottling up inside of me. The thing is I couldn’t run away from myself, all I can do is change the things that I don’t want and make myself better. I am stuck with myself, that’s for sure, but I don’t have to be stuck with a situation that’s not healthy and is ripping me apart.

Crying made me strong. Being alone, listening to what my heart has to say, and writing made me strong. If my brother didn’t die, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. This is how I got something good from the bad. Events that hurt are just ripping us apart for us to see what’s really inside. Pain is necessary but it doesn’t mean that we should cling to it. What’s more essential is to overcome pain and come out of it stronger. TC mark

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